Fenelon Falls Falcons captain Ross Nettinga battles with Red Hawks player Nik Dollo for a loose puck along the boards during Kawartha High School Hockey League action on Wednesday Jan. 16 at the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton. The Hawks beat the Falcons 3-2. The game-winner was scored by Lucas Haedicke./DARREN LUM Staff

Hawks soaring higher beat Falcons

By Darren Lum

Published Jan. 22 2019

It wasn't pretty by any measure but the Hawks pulled out the 3-2 win over the visiting Falcons of Fenelon Falls.

With just five extra players on the bench (three forwards and two defencemen) the Falcons were at a disadvantage to start the game against the red and white who had their full complement of players (three lines and four defenceman missing only Shawn Walker to injury). It's unconfirmed but several Falcons players were healthy scratches.

The Hawks did not play to their strengths. Instead they let the Falcons dictate for portions of the game.

Hawks coach Jason Morissette acknowledged the team's poor play believing they only followed the team system of play for a quarter of the game. However he will take the win and the two points.

He told them“The positive [thing] is you won. I'm never going to be negative about winning a hockey game. The part that is a struggle is you know we had some defensive lapse there struggles in our own end couldn't get it out. Basically it's a little bit of guys I would say you know when a team is coming out and they're really competing hard. Fenelon came off a big win 4-1 over the top place team this past week. So they got some confidence. I thought they played really well. They came out and really competed. Their top players came out and really competed. You've got to come out with the same compete [level].”

That said Morissette has seen his team be strong at the start but lose their focus at the midway point.

“Our team every time this year. Every game that we've started our team has come out going hard. So they've come out going hard it's in the mid half of the game sometimes until the end there has been some games [the focus hasn't been there]. It's more mental. It's not physical.

They had 10 players. We had a full bench so it's about guys with their match-ups. Guys and their positions. It's about winning puck battles so we mentioned it during the game. We did see a number of players a little lack of urgency there. A little lack of discipline. Discipline becomes a problem when you're out of position because you're not get up and go. You have to get up and go to be there and you have to have some heart. So that's the mental game” he said.

He recognizes these are just “kids” and there is a lot happening with them that he doesn't know about or how they have other hockey team commitments.

“You do give them some breaks. At the same time we have good opportunities to advance in the league” he said.

The win improves the Hawks to 6-2-0. Goalie Jaxson Campbell earned the win. The team has only allowed 11 goals in eight games this season.

The varsity hockey team is climbing the standings and is now in third place (as of Thursday Jan. 17) with 12 points with their recent win. The Kawartha table is crowded with five positions shared by eight teams and separated by just four points – two points for a win and one point for a tie.

Getting the Hawks on the board first was Joe Boice with assists from Alex Little and Zach Morissette in the first few minutes of the game.

The second goal for the Hawks was scored by defenceman Dylan Keefer with minutes left in the second. His goal tied up the game 2-2.

Hawks forward Lucas Haedicke scored the eventual game-winner (short-handed) in the final minute of the second period with a backhand shot beating the Falcons goalie blocker side.
He was happy with getting the game-winner.

In reference to the less than perfect game by the Hawks part of the issue in Wednesday's game for the defence was getting caught flat-footed.

The Falcons for their part moved the puck well using speed to pressure the defence. The Hawks forwards weren't without criticism for the defensive woes however.
Morissette said defence involves everyone.

He wants more pressure on the puck carrier of the opposing team than what was exhibited by his front lines. Their pressure helps the defence.

“If we don't pressure the puck it's allowing guys to come out with speed against one or two tired defencemen” he said.

It's also important he said for his players to recognize who is on the ice whether the opposing players possess the kind of skills to be a threat. This understanding is critical to know the odds of what may happen in the case of a turnover when pushing the offence.

This one with its glaring issues on defence will be able to be one of those games which will be used as a teaching aid and a building block to (hopefully) a championship.

“There's always a learning opportunity right? So if they're reminded and shown an inventory of games in which they tried to do their thing that doesn't work very well then hopefully they go in here and go 'we tried to do that. We tried to run and gun. That doesn't work very well. We're not getting the goals. We're not getting the opportunities. We're actually stressed out because we're letting the team into the game'” he said.

Conversely he said showing them games when adhering to the system translates to a more dominating performance will instill confidence about playing as a team.

“If you can use those games versus maybe a game like this to kind of say 'Look what we do here and if you do that we can win against really really strong high school teams if we get away from that look what happens. We're going to lose or make it really stressful for ourselves” he said.
This is owed to the players buying in he adds.

As of Wednesday Jan. 16 the team is tied with Cobourg a AAA team for third. Four games remain in the regular season. The Hawks’ next home game is against St. Mary who are currently second in Kawartha with a 6-1-1 record on Wednesday Feb. 13 at the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton. The puck drops at 4 p.m.

Morissette is getting his team to work toward finishing on top which will benefit the team's aspirations for a Kawartha championship.

“It is a big deal. Especially if you can host the tournament in your rink. You're not riding on a bus all the way down there but it's up to them. I mentioned that to them. [The coaching staff] can only do so much. We can remind them. We can show them but we don't play” he said. “They're a good bunch and I can say this to you guys is that on the ice and off the ice this group has been great. They've been great at tournaments. They've been great for the most part at every game so there is a lot of potential in terms of leadership there. There's a lot of respect. They do want to do well. They do want to represent well. They have a lot of pride in their school and the communities they come from so you can work with that.”

He said finishing the regular season in first place will give the team more than an opportunity to host the AA Kawartha Championship tournament. It will also earn the team a bye of the first round. A date for Kawartha has not been set yet.